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I’m a 61-year-old flight attendant who wants to retire at 70. I’ll have a $900 per month pension and will get Social Security, but only have $150K in my 401(k). Should I get professional help?

This flight attendant is looking for financial help from an adviser, but how should she pick the right one?

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Question: I think I need a financial advisor. I am 61 and plan on retiring at 70. I am a flight attendant and will receive a pension of just over $900 per month. I have a 401(k) with a balance of just over $150,000, and I will receive Social Security when I retire. I have never had a financial planner and hope it’s not too late to start with one. My goal is to increase my 401(k) and just use common sense with my spending. I am single with no children. Any advice or recommendations on who to contact or how to proceed would be appreciated. (Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Answer: We commend you on hoping to boost your bottom line, and it’s not too late to find a financial planner to help you, if you decide to go that route. “You’re in what I call the mad dash to retirement, during which people who might not have been paying sufficient attention to savings and investments start to turn on the savings afterburners,” says Jim Kinney, certified financial planner at Financial Pathways.

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On the surface, it sounds like your needs are pretty simple and straightforward. If you opt for a planner, “I would recommend finding a financial planner who is fee-only, meaning they work only for you and do not sell insurance or investment products to you,” says Kinney. And, pros say, it also sounds like you’d benefit from an hourly or project-based adviser, who will charge you a flat-fee or hourly fee to give you financial advice, rather than managing your investments for you.

“Some advisers only want to manage money. They won’t want to work with you if most of your savings is in your employer’s 401(k). But you can find advisers who don’t require you to invest through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or Garrett Planning Network — just be sure to explain that you’re looking for retirement planning, not investment management,” says Kinney. Fees can vary widely, but know that they are negotiable — just stress that your life is uncomplicated and you only need simple projections and guidance. Here’s what you might pay for financial advice.

An adviser can take a complete look at your income and spending, your risk tolerance, your asset allocation and your long-term goals — and from that create a plan for you that will help you meet your goals. (Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

There are also several issues you should address, including when to begin Social Security, since you can maximize benefits when you wait until age 70. “You need to consider having a taxable investment or savings account in addition to your 401(k), which would allow for having cash to access at 70 when your pension begins and being able to delay taking required minimum distributions from the 401(k) until age 72,” says certified financial planner Cheryl Morhauser. In fact, delaying Social Security generally provides an 8% raise every year from 62 to 70, says certified financial planner Brian Fry of Safe Landing Financial.

You should also consider which investments are most appropriate for your risk tolerance profile to ensure you survive market volatility as we’re seeing right now. “A financial planner can provide strategic Roth conversion advice on an annual basis, exposing taxable income to lower brackets now in lieu of higher brackets in the future, and they can manage exposure to higher income brackets when pulling from an IRA, while minimizing the risk of exposure of surplus Medicare premium surcharges,” says certified financial planner Jeff Stewart of Lucid Wealth Planning.

Additionally, a financial planner can evaluate the benefits, drawbacks, costs and community of long-term care options; evaluate healthcare insurance; offer ongoing education and support; and implement a disciplined, unemotional and repeatable rebalancing strategy, reducing the risk of behavioral mistakes, says Stewart. (Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

You want to make sure your money lasts your entire life, and you will want to work with an adviser to “run multiple what-if scenarios when making big decisions,” says certified financial planner DeeDee Baze of Alphemita Financial Services.

And, of course, you can do this yourself. Consider books like I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi; The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBoeuf and Taylor Larimore; and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Additionally, there are many free online courses available including Finance for Everyone, How to Save Money: Making Smart Financial Decisions (an archived University of California, Berkeley course) and Purdue University’s Planning for a Secure Retirement.

Have an issue with your financial adviser or want a new one? Email

Questions edited for brevity and clarity.

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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